Conservative attorney Richard Painter, who served as the chief White House ethics lawyer in President George W. Bush’s administration, and is now a law professor at the University of Minnesota, warned on Monday that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has acted in a “corrupt” manner and has “rigged” a potential Senate trial for President Donald Trump.
McConnell last Thursday told Fox News host Sean Hannity that he would be working closely with White House counsel in the increasingly likely event of a Senate trial following a vote of impeachment in the House of Representatives. “I’m going to take my cues from the president’s lawyers,” the Republican from Kentucky asserted.
As a result, many Democrats – and some conservatives – have criticized McConnell for openly announcing his intent to violate the oath he, along with other senators, will be required to take ahead of the trial. That oath explicitly states that the lawmakers “will do impartial justice according to the Constitution.”
“This is not about partisan politics,” Painter tweeted. “I have taken on corrupt Democrats including Minnesota’s DFL Party bosses. But the conduct of @senatemajldr in this impeachment trial is corrupt and partisan beyond the pale. The GOP will not survive if this continues,” he wrote.
This is not about partisan politics. I have taken on corrupt Democrats including Minnesota’s DFL Party bosses. But the conduct of @senatemajldr in this impeachment trial is corrupt and partisan beyond the pale. The GOP will not survive if this continues.
— Richard W. Painter (@RWPUSA) December 16, 2019
In a second tweet, he added: “This is about the rule of law, not partisanship. I am an independent and am a critic of corrupt Democrats as well as Republicans here in Minnesota and elsewhere. For me the facts are clear: @senatemajldr has this impeachment trial rigged.”
The legal expert also warned: “The conduct of @senatemajldr in this impeachment trial is corrupt and partisan beyond the pale. The GOP will not survive if this continues.” Painter asserted that “this is not about partisan politics,” noting that he has “taken on corrupt Democrats” in the past as well.
Multiple current and former Trump administration officials testified that there was a “quid pro quo” involved in the pressure campaign.
The president withheld nearly $400 million in military aid – which had been approved with bipartisan support by Congress – to Ukraine and also withheld a White House meeting with the Ukranian President Voldymyr Zelenskiy as part of his administration’s efforts to pressure the announcement of investigations of political rival Joe Biden, according to witnesses.
Throughout the House inquiry, the White House consistently refused to comply with congressional subpoenas related to the impeachment probe, while also blocking witnesses from testifying. This led to the second article of impeachment, for “Obstruction of Congress,” as the House of Representatives is granted the “sole Power of Impeachment” by the Constitution.
Despite the charges, Republicans in the House and Senate have largely continued to defend the president.
Thus far, the votes relating to the inquiry have passed strictly along party lines, with the exception of independent Representative Justin Amash of Michigan, who was elected as a Republican but declared his independence in July.